Christian Identity Theology: Religious Motivation & Violence

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Relics, Remnants, and Religion: an Undergraduate Journal in Religious Studies, Vol: 1, Issue: 1

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Bates, Jae
The University of Puget Sound; Tacoma, Washington
Religious violence; Christian Identity movement; Aryan Nations; Religions; Religions -- Philosophy; Religions -- History
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article description
From the Oklahoma City Bombing to the recent mass shooting of a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, conversations on Christian motivations of terror are becoming more prevalent. In his book, Terror in the Mind of God, Mark Juergensmeyer proposes five characteristics for explaining religious violence: (1) violence as performative and symbolic, (2) violence as part of a cosmic war, (3) violence is sacrificial, (4) enemies are ‘satanized’ or dehumanized, and (5) violence is committed to empower the marginalized. The Christian Identity movement is characterized by performative violence, cosmic war, satanized enemies, and violence to empower the marginalized. Yet, the Christian Identity movement does not fit the characteristic of sacrificial violence because they are trying to preserve the white race and thus do not want to kill their members. This paper will expand on Juergensmeyer’s model of five characteristics in Terror in the Mind of God by examining the Aryan Nations’ worldview under the Christian Identity movement and how it fits into the framework that Mark Juergensmeyer has created. This finding suggests that Mark Juergensmeyer’s explanatory devices cannot be applied to every militant religious group.